Bobby Ghosh on Trump’s Relationship with NATO

President Trump is in London for NATO’s 70th’s birthday, proud that other members are contributing more money to the defense organization than before. But there was also tension on display today between Trump and French President Macron, as they sparred over NATO, ISIS and Turkey. Bobby Ghosh, a veteran analyst of foreign affairs, joins the program to assess the fallout.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: On the one hand, myself and others who follow this closely and probably you too, have been surprised by President Trump’s mostly fulsome support and praise of NATO. Am I right?

BOBBY GHOSH, BLOOMBERG OPINION EDITOR: Yes, it’s quite astonishing. This is the man, two years ago, when he went to his first NATO summit took a flame thrower to the thing, a blowtorch to the thing and suggested that the U.S. didn’t need NATO anymore. He asked questions about why America was protecting other countries. There was a lot of sort of anti-NATO sentiment coming out of the White House for two years. So, this is a big, bit turnaround. And I think one of the people who — one of the unsung heroes of this, one of the people who has helped him change his mind is Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, who has been working very, very carefully and slowly and steadily to change the president’s view on NATO. He’s also been working on all the other NATO leaders persuading them to allow President Trump to think of these things as his victories. So, when the president claims that NATO members are paying more into the pot because of him, part of Jens Stoltenberg job is to tell all those other NATO leaders, let him have that. Let him think that. Let him buy into it and have him an investment into NATO. It’s worked. It’s — after all this time, it’s working like a charm.

AMANPOUR: And you know what, I had the opportunity of interviewing the secretary general yesterday and the run up to this meeting, and he obviously didn’t put it that way because he’s incredibly diplomatic and as you say, has a very persistence, calm behind the scenes role that he’s playing and it seems to get on pretty well with Donald Trump. But he said, look, you know, he can claim politically, if he needs to at home, that, yes, there are now hundreds of billions of dollars more in the NATO Kitty. And if you remember, they even got the American contribution to the administrative costs in Brussels to come down while raising other country’s contributions.

GHOSH: Yes. That’s been a talking point for Trump. That’s something he can take to his electoral base in the United States and say to them, I forced all these European countries, these free riders who are depending on American support to continue to — for their security, I have persuaded them to begin pony up, pay their fair share, the Germans, particularly. And that’s great. And Stoltenberg’s wisdom isn’t just allowing Trump to say that for the domestic audience as long as NATO gets protected, preserved and the American commitment to it remains.

About This Episode EXPAND

Bobby Ghosh joins Christiane Amanpour to discuss this year’s NATO summit and analyze tensions between Presidents Trump and Macron, then Gülnur Aybet explains President Erdogan’s role in the situation. Shirin Neshat and Hadi Ghaemi unpack the significance of a new exhibition of female Iranian artists. Feras Fayyad tells Hari Sreenivasan about his new documentary “The Cave.”